Get help, advice and support
If you are threatened with homelessness or think you might become homeless, don’t wait, seek housing advice and assistance from our Homelessness Team at the earliest opportunity. The more time we have, the more likely it is that we will be able to prevent you from becoming homeless.
Get help to prevent you from becoming homeless
We will take all reasonable steps to prevent homelessness for anyone at risk regardless of their priority need. This might include assisting someone to stay in their current accommodation or help with finding a new place to live.
We have a duty to provide or secure the provision of housing advice and information about homelessness and the prevention of homelessness, free of charge. Information and advice is available to anyone threatened with homelessness , even if they are not eligible for further housing assistance from us.
What advice can we offer?
We have a dedicated Homelessness Team who offer advice on:
- Preventing your homelessness under the Homelessness Reduction Act
- Securing accommodation when homeless
- The rights of people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness and our duties
- Any help that is available from us or anyone else, for people who are homeless or who are threatened with homelessness, including how to access that help
- Assistance to qualifying applicants to join the council’s housing register
People can be threatened with homelessness for various reasons. Here is some advice, depending on your circumstances.
Housing advice for people leaving prison
If you have been released from prison and are now homeless, or if you are due to be released from prison and are facing the threat of becoming homeless, then you can seek advice and support from our Homelessness Team.
How we can help
Firstly, we will need to determine if you are eligible for assistance. If you are offered an appointment you must bring some formal identification with you; such as your passport, birth certificate, or valid immigration documents. You may also be asked to provide a risk assessment from your Probation Officer if you have one.
If you are eligible for assistance we will help to identify your support needs and work to relieve your homelessness.
A Homelessness Officer will provide you with a Personal Housing Plan, which will identify actions that need to be carried out by yourself and your Homelessness Officer. This may include engaging with organisations that assist ex-offenders and looking for suitable private rented accommodation.
Housing advice for care leavers
If you are a care leaver with a local connection to Essex, you may be able to get help with housing from any council in Essex, though this will depend on your age and circumstances.
However, in most cases homelessness for care leavers in Essex will be prevented by a planned move to independence with your personal advisor from Essex Social Care.
You may be offered short term supported housing to gain the skills to live independently, and then be moved on into independent accommodation. In some cases, if your personal advisor believes that you already have the skills to manage your own home, you may be assisted by the Council to move into your own independent accommodation.
However, each case is different and there are circumstances in which you may not meet all the criteria.
Housing advice for ex-armed forces
If you are a former member of the armed forces and are now homeless, or if you are planning to leave the armed forces and are facing the threat of becoming homeless, you can contact our Homelessness Team for assistance and advice.
We will consider:
- How long you were in the armed forces and what role you had
- How long it has been since you left the armed services
- Whether you spent any time in a military hospital
- If you have been issued a medical history release form and been released from service on medical grounds
- Whether you have found your own accommodation since leaving the armed forces
- Your existing support networks
Then we will discuss the housing options available to you, providing advice and assistance.
Applications to our Housing Register
If you make an application to our housing register you may qualify under the armed forces local residence exceptions. In exceptional cases, you may also be entitled to an additional armed forces effective date, which means that your application might be backdated to reflect the length of your military service.
Housing advice for people leaving hospital
If you expect to be discharged from hospital soon but have nowhere to live, it is important that you inform hospital staff immediately as they will be able to arrange for appropriate support.
Peabody Housing Association is working in partnership with the Council to assess patient circumstances, offer advice and support and, provide access to rehousing options.
Most British residents are eligible to apply for rehousing assistance, though separate rules may apply for those who have just returned from abroad.
What to expect
We will carry out an assessment in order to determine whether you are:
- Genuinely homeless
- A priority need for rehousing consideration
- Locally connected to the Epping Forest district
If you are eligible, we will
- Identify whether there is anywhere for you to return to, and/or negotiate for your return
- Discuss your options for housing and work with you to prevent homelessness
- Work with other agencies to assess whether you need help living independently
- If hostel, refuge or other forms of temporary accommodation are required, we will identify the most suitable options and search for availability
- If there is no accommodation available in the district, we may seek options outside the area
- We will work on ultimately getting you into settled housing
Our Homelessness Team will give housing advice and provide you with the best suited Personal Housing Plan to prevent or relieve your homelessness.
Housing advice for people with mental health issues
Poor mental health is both a cause and consequence of homelessness.
Our Homelessness Team will try to identify housing problems at the earliest opportunity to prevent you from becoming homeless. This will be achieved through partnership and multi-agency working via the necessary support intervention you may require.
For the council to be legally obliged to provide you with accommodation, we need to be satisfied that you are eligible, homeless, in priority need and that you have not made yourself intentionally homeless.
What to expect
We will assess the circumstances of your homelessness, identify what your housing and support needs are, and to work with you to try to prevent your homelessness or support you to find somewhere to live.
We will provide you with a Personal Housing Plan which will tell you what we can do to help you and what you can do to help yourself. This might include actions such as attending appointments or engaging with organisations that can assist individuals with mental illness or impairment.
On the basis that you are suffering from a mental illness or impairment the Council may accept that you are vulnerable and therefore in priority need for accommodation. This will be determined by your personal circumstances and will take into account information we gather from various sources including any medical professionals involved in your care.
We will continuously review the advice and advocacy services available to you, and develop outreach support services according to your needs through your Personal Housing Plan.
The Homelessness Team will support you to access advice and guidance from specialist services, who will provide more in-depth support to you.
Housing advice for private tenants
If you are a private rented tenant threatened with homelessness then you can contact our Homelessness Team. If you have been served a Section 21 notice, our Officers will check the notice is valid, and can speak to your landlord on your behalf.
Rights and responsibilities
Your responsibilities as a tenant mean that you must:
- Pay the agreed rent
- Give your landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs, providing they have given you 24 hours’ notice
- Take good care of the property
- Pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, such as utility bills
- Repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family, or your friends
- Only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it
You may be legally evicted by your landlord if you do not meet your responsibilities.
As a tenant you have the right to:
- Have your deposit protected and returned when the tenancy ends
- Live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair
- Live in the property undisturbed
- Know who your landlord is
- Challenge excessively high charges
- See the Energy Performance Certificate for the property (legal requirement)
- See the Gas Safety Certificate for the property (legal requirement)
- Be protected from unfair eviction
- Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more than 3 years
Protection from illegal eviction and harassment
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 makes it an offence to:
- Carry out acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with them
- Persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home
If you are facing harassment or have been illegally evicted then contact the Homelessness Team.
Housing advice for people facing eviction from family or friends
We recognise that being asked to leave your home by family or friends can be very distressing for everyone involved.
However, we will try and negotiate with the family or friends to allow you to remain within the home environment. The security provided by remaining in the home will enable you to plan your future accommodation needs, with the help of the Homelessness Team, avoiding unnecessary disruption.
Advice for 16-17 year olds
We will carry out a joint home visit with Social Services to discuss your housing options.
Contact us for housing advice
You may get housing advice and assistance in the following ways.
- Telephone 01992 564165 in office hours
- Telephone 01992 564000 in an emergency out of hours